Why come out of the cellar just to go dancing undercover?

Music reviews

ratt

Dancing Undercover, Ratt Atlantic Records, 1986.

Ratt’s coolest-looking album cover, drenched in at it’s glorious ’80s excess.

 

Whenever I get the itch to listen to Ratt, I usually reach for Out of The Cellar,  Invasion of Your Privacy or even Detonator. But what about the other Ratt albums like say, Dancing Undercover?

Ratt had the misfortune of starting out on top starting with the EP and the debut then the band would experience a slow and steady decline in quality over the next few albums. The band’s third offering, 1986’s Dancing Undercover sees Ratt rocking and scoring more hits, accumulating further success, yet they are merely on autopilot here.

That’s not to say the songs aren’t good, because they are. It just feels a little more calculated the third time around. Rate still has that insane groove, Stephen Pearcy still has that screeching voice and they laid down some great guitar work.

“Dance” is a high octane opener, dirty, gritty and catchy, pure Ratt right down to the lyrics. The song that made me want the album.

To me “One Good Lover” is an underrated number, a solid rocker that gets stuck in your head although no one seems to give this one any attention (maybe it’s just underrated to me?).

“Drive Me Crazy” is fast paced tune but has little else going for it.

The second single,”Slip of The Lip”, is a great commercial rock song, this is one of the most memorable moments of the album. Catchy, with that blend of rock and pop that Ratt did so well.

“Body Talk” is a fun upbeat rocker, one of Dancing Undercover‘s best and the heaviest tune of the album. The guitars in the intro are clean and stunning and then jump into one of those trademark heavy crunchy riffs.

Up next is “Looking For Love”, it has a catchy chorus and it has its place here. It’s after this song that things start to go south and we get songs that range from filler to just plain average.

Songs like “7th Avenue” and “Take A Chance” are filler material at best, nothing about them stands out and sadly, they’re just not very good.

“It Doesn’t Matter” has good playing, the music is good but none of the lyrics/verses/chorus have much charm to them, average at best.

“Enough Is Enough” is not a terrible song by Ratt standards, but it’s also not a great way to end an album, it doesn’t end on an especially high note.

Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini, Robin Crosby, Juan Croucier and Bobby Blotzer sound just as good and tight a unit as they did on the first two albums. The playing is great (although more restrained and a little less over the top with solos), they still have that groove we love so much it’s just the songs aren’t as great this time around. Blame it on the lyrics, excessive touring or whatever you want but objectively one can see a bit of a decline starting to happen with Dancing Undercover.

The songs off this one aren’t played as much and because of that it’s a fun listen as in “oh yeah I forgot about that song!”. It’s more accessible than the first two Ratt records, and in that sense more of your average mid 1980’s record than a game changer like Out of the Cellar.

I always had a weakness, nay, a soft spot for Ratt, they were always one of my favourites of the era. The second half of the album especially is lacking and is frankly not that good, especially compared with songs on first two albums which were spectacular. That’s not to say it’s a bad album, because it’s not. It has it’s moments and the singles are all Ratt classics and there’s some other cool tunes on here for sure.

Dancing Undercover is neither the band’s best or worst album (and it would get worse until it got better), but it was the first time where l wasn’t blown away by Ratt. 3/5*

 

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